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Airlines Seek WHO Approval of Quarantine-Free Travel After Vaccines

2021-01-28 00:20:11

The aviation industry has called on the World Health Organization to rule that it is safe for people to fly without being quarantined once they have had a coronavirus vaccine.

Recognition of that principle by the United Nations agency is essential to the development of a digital travel pass to get people moving again once infection rates decrease, the International Air Transport Association said Wednesday.

"We can say what we want, what we need is for the WHO to come out and say the same thing, so it becomes a universal acceptance that once you get vaccinated you don't have to go through one of these hoops," Nick Careen, IATA & # 39; s senior vice president for passenger affairs, said in a briefing.

The development of common standards for vaccine certificates, an important aspect of the Travel Pass smartphone app proposed by IATA, needs to go much faster, Careen said. Paper accreditation is more prone to fraud, and several cases have already emerged, he said. The IATA app, which can also be used to store a negative test result, will be launched in March.

"We've been suggesting this for months," he said. “The WHO needs a fire underneath to get this done sooner rather than later. Even then, there is no guarantee that every government will adopt the norm right away. "

The WHO's Emergency Committee on Covid-19 is not recommending countries to require proof of vaccination from incoming travelers, as the impact of vaccinations on reducing transmission is unknown, the agency said Jan. 15. Nations should instead implement coordinated, evidence-based measures. for safe travel, he said.

Since the early months of the pandemic, the aviation and travel industry have called on governments and international institutions to work together on a unified way to facilitate passage across borders. A lack of consistency and some abrupt policy changes have kept most people from traveling, leaving many companies with a bleak outlook.

Greek Cheer

IATA has been applauded by Greece and says vaccinated people should not be subject to travel restrictions, Careen said, adding that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recognized that injections should be an enabler and people who have had the virus should. are exempt from quarantines and testing.

Talks are continuing with the European Union and the nation-states in the bloc, as well as with the air safety regulator EASA, Careen said. He added that while a harmonized approach is preferable, IATA understands that the introduction of Covid passports will be complicated, but the intention is to make the app work even if information has to be entered manually.

IATA held the first meeting of nearly 20 companies last week, including the Travel Pass advisory group. Pilot programs have started or are planned with airlines such as British Airways, Singapore Airline Ltd. and Qatar Airways. It has also been approached by non-aviation parties interested in the app, including Airbnb Inc. and concert organizers.

–With help from Corinne Gretler.

Top photo: A traveler wearing a protective mask walks at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in San Francisco, California, USA on Monday, December 21, 2020. Airline passengers in the US totaled 1.06 million on Dec. 20, compared to 2.52 million on the same weekday a year earlier, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Photographer: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg

Copyright 2021 Bloomberg.

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